SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock

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Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion in SUSPIRIA

Suspiria (1977) Is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most artistic horror film ever made. There is so much going on in Suspiria that one blog post cannot cover all the occultism that saturates this film. The Three Mothers motif, inspired by the work of Thomas DeQuincey, will find it’s own exegesis in a separate post. For now, let us focus our dark-adapted eye upon a particular set piece and give the Devil His due. And please, don’t think us mad until you have digested all what we are communicating to you here.

Suspiria 4When looking for the Devil in the Details in Suspiria, you cannot help but notice the sculpture of the Peacock in the film’s climactic scene. That such exquisite yet superfluous beauty as the male peacock exists at all in the world can be seen by some as proof positive of a beneficial Creator – a thumb print, if you will, of the work done by the hand of the Divine Artist. The Peacock is a symbol of Beauty, Vanity and, of course, Pride – Lucifer’s sin.

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The Fall

The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stirred up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equaled the most High,
If he opposed; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Raised impious War in Heaven and Battle proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the Ethereal Sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,

From: Paradise Lost by John Milton

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The Fall

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A new opportunity presents itself…

In Suspiria, the presence of the Peacock with several marble spheres at it’s feet recalls certain pre-Islamic religious traditions such as the Gnostic Manichaeism philosophy, or the later Yazidi tradition wherein which the ‘Peacock Angel’ Melek Ta’us – an entity often mistakenly confused with the evil entity known as Shaitan / Satan / Iblis by Judeo-Christian and Muslim interpretation – is responsible for the 7 created worlds, and the 7 Heavens.

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The Yazidis are peace-loving monotheists, believing in God as creator of the world, which he has placed under the care of seven holy beings or angels, the chief of whom is Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel. The Peacock Angel , vowing to bow only to God the Almighty, refused to bow to God’s human creations – Adam & Eve. By refusing this direct order from the Almighty, this so-called “Fallen Angel” is granted rulership over the created world and is given the task of challenging humankind with all the difficulties of incarnated existence with it’s endless parade of Sighs, Tears and Darkness.

In Yazidi (Yezidi) tradition The Peacock Angel – named Azazel – as world-ruler, is Prince of this world – our created, material world; and if this world, with all it’s “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” is a shadow manifested by the deepest condensation of the divine light emanated by the Almighty, would it then be a complete error to call this entity the Prince of Darkness? Azazel is the one who causes both good and bad to befall individuals, and this ambivalent character is reflected in myths of his own temporary fall from God’s favour, before his remorseful tears extinguished the fires of his hellish prison and he was reconciled with God. As observed by more than one occultist, the Devil’s power lies in that ‘He suffers.”

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A Yazidi emblem with the Peacock Angel presiding over the created world. There are 3 plumes on the head (The Trinity),  7 red feathers (The Heptad of Angels), and 12 plumed eyes (The Zodiac).

In certain Gnostic traditions a reconciliation is made between God and the Devil.

We find a peacock idol presiding over several (five? the number of the Pentagram?) spheres in the climactic scene of Suspiria, just after we witness Madame Blanc, “the Vice Directress,” (wink, wink nod) of the Dance Academy and her coven of wicked witches invoking “Satanas.” The presence of  this idol is either coincidence or somebody did their occult homework. Or, perhaps, the art director was influenced by other, unseen forces?

 

 

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Count the number of “eyes” on the peacock’s tail.

Archon: Gnosticism will give some insight into The Hebdomad, the Seven Spheres or Heavens, often recognized in popular Occultism and Kabbalah as: Saturn – Cronus, Jupiter – Zeus, Venus – Aphrodite, Moon – Hekate/Diana, Mercury – Hermes, and Mars – Aries all gathered around the Sun/Sol – Apollo. Seven colors are also expressed by the spectrum, the degrees of manifest Light – a peacock’s rainbowed fan of categorized material expression of Spirit.

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Now, sometimes, when seeking out the Devil in the Details, you find the Devil looking right back out at you! Don’t drop your Tarot cards Minnie… but after a close observation of ‘Suspiria’  it appears the Peacock image in Our Lady of Sighs – Mater Suspiriorum’s – chambers has 15 “eyes” on it’s tail. Fifteen is of course the number of XV THE DEVIL card in the Tarot! 

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Whichever Tarot deck you use…

However you shuffle your cards…

THE DEVIL remains number XV !

The redemptive tears of the Peacock Angel…

Fifteen “eyes” on the peacock sculpture in SUSPIRIA…

THE DEVIL in the Tarot is numbered 15…

and, oh yes, the Hebrew letter attached to the XVth Arcanum of the Tarot – THE DEVIL card – is Ayin, which just happens to mean “an eye”.

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AYIN = Eye

The three DEVIL Tarot cards below (from three different packs) each carry a visible letter AYIN. We know our Tarot thoroughly and highly recomend it’s study.

Charms and decorations with eye-like symbols known as nazars, which are used to repel the evil eye, are a common sight across Armenia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Greece, the Levant, Afghanistan, Southern Spain, and Mexico and have become a popular choice of souvenir with tourists.

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After crashing into said Art Deco peacock idol, Suzy Bannion – Our heroine in SUSPIRIA – manages to snatch a fallen peacock plumed stiletto from the overturned idol with which to dispatch the powerfully evil and wicked witch Mater Suspriorum, a.k.a. Helena Markos, by stabbing her through the neck. Mater Suspiriorum, Our Mother of Sighs, is pierced in the neck, the throat, the very reservoir of sighs! Silencing forever that corroded, blasphemous craw!

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Something about that Peacock just sticks in my craw !

But of course we do continue to sigh,

and to weep,

and to stare long and deep

into the gaping jaws of Time.

The religious persecutions and genocidal campaigns executed against the Kurdish Yazidi people of Iraq are horrendous and continue today. How often do you hear the name of the city of Mosul in Iraq in the news?  Mosul is the area closest to the largest Yazidi population in Iraq. You may recall the  2007 Mosul Massacre.

Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL

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Yazidi children have also been victims of Islamic terror and genocide.

For centuries the Yazidis have been tormented and accused of being “Devil-Worshippers.” Religious extremism in the form of the zealots of the so-called Islamic State and other forces in the region have caused untold miseries upon these people who have seen their people massacred and their children sold into sexual slavery. We must use caution so as not to pour gasoline on the fire by misrepresenting the Yazidi people as “Devil-Worshippers” in the Horror film sense of the term. Their tradition is an ancient one containing elements of Gnosticism, Sufism, Christianity and Islam – and yet is completely unique. Comparisons from a solely Christian or Islamic perspective can only result in misinterpretation and misunderstandings. It is it’s own Faith.  Please research the topic to educate yourself further.

Yazidi Woman Who Suffered IS Enslavement Lobbies Washington for Help : May 27, 2017

May we suggest:

If you have a taste for the Occult we suggest this video lecture:

Thelma and the Yezidi “Devil Worshippers”

Some few books are available…

‘Survival Among the Kurds; A History of the Yezidis’

by John S Guest

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Yazidi traditions have a strong emphasis on bodily purity.

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Yazidi gathering at their sacred site in Lalish.

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A Yazidi gathering. Yazidi traditions differ from those of their neighbors but they are most certainly not “Devil worshippers” as certain intolerant groups have claimed.

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Displaced Yazidis fleeing from genocide by the savages of the so-called Islamic State

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Islamic extremists give Yazidis only one choice: Convert or die.

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Yazidi genocide by Islamic zealots.

We await the apocalyptic splendor of a world without religiously motivated hate or genocide.

By: H. B. Gardner

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Satanic Cinema Sommelier; Our Favorite Devilish Films

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Peter Paul Rubens – Bacchus

A wine list of diabolical films with the most redeeming  value, or that are otherwise notable for interesting Satanic, Black Magic, Witchcraft, Pagan or Occult, content.

Some have aged well and are to be savored, while others have a distinct bite. A few have gone to vinegar but may still make an interesting salad dressing.

 Beware! We tried to avoid it but there may be a few spoilers! This list will be added to as time allows.

First, of course, are Cinema’s infamous “Unholy Trinity” of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen. We of course refer to the original films and not any remakes nor sequels, prequels or fecals. That is not to say that some of these sequels are not enjoyable, but these original films, and novels in the case of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist,  stand out as having had a widespread influence in popular culture regarding beliefs in an actual Devil, or Satan, and the powers of Evil.

Each of these three films have aged extremely well, are smooth but robust in taste, and have their own distinct flavor and bouquet. Each one was a smash hit at it’s time of release and have spawned any number of imitations, sequels, remakes, spin-offs and wannabes.

The seventies and eighties were arguably the best time for these films. However, none before or since, has had as visceral an impact as The Exorcist.

Our personal favorite is Rosemary’s Baby, so let’s begin there.

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Rosemary’s Baby ushered in the whole Devil Baby cinematic motif

Rosemary’s Baby

Satanic Sommelier:  A very expensive bottle of Château Margaux with savory notes and a strong finish! Too expensive? Try making a vodka blush in tribute to the Castevets! 

  • 2 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • 3/4 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice (strained)
  • Dash Grenadine
  • Fill shaker 2/3 with fresh ice. Add ingredients. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a fresh sprig of Rosemary.

You can always celebrate the good tidings with champagne. (1968) Although this may first sound like a bit of an overstatement, this film and the book it came from caused millions of people in the 1960’s to seriously examine their religious beliefs and ideology. This was done deftly – in print and film – without any onscreen violence or gore. Hands must have surely trembled as they turned the final pages of this thriller when it was first released in 1967. The film, which followed the following year, closely adheres to the original novel in every way but has been brought to vivid and believable life through committed performances by the entire cast, especially Mia Farrow as Rosemary and Ruth Gordon who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Minnie Castevet. This is the Mother of All Devil-Baby Movies and has spawned any number of imitations.

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The Exorcist works on many levels

The Exorcist

Satanic Sommelier: An expensive Scotch, neat, no ice necessary. (1973) What can we say here that hasn’t already been said? It is a tense, dark, psychological and spiritual Horror Drama. The scenes of  the possessed girl are deservedly famous, but it’s truly the spiritual crisis of the character of Father/Dr. Damien Karras (played by Jason Miller) which stands at the center of this gripping story. Father Damien Karras is a Jesuit priest who loses his faith and subsequently achieves a kind of perverse heroic redemption in his own self-destruction – or does he?

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The Omen echoed the ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ motif and became a franchise

The Omen

Satanic Sommelier: A good but affordable Australian or Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon; we recommend Casillero del Diablo; or perhaps Newcastle beer. Enjoyable and easy to drink… but not every day. (1976) caused a good many people to start attending church or paying closer attention to the last chapter of The New Testament. A number of people went home and shaved their kid’s heads in order to inspect them for the Devil’s birthmark – 666. Spectacular death scenes which can be interpreted as coincidental “accidents” or the work of Evil forces. The trinity of Omen films is Satanic Cinema Canon and one could do worse than to watch all three in a video marathon.

♥♠ Other notable cinematic daemons (old to new) are:

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Häxan

Satanic Sommelier: Absinthe. (1922) Häxan is a strange creature that is also a real treasure. English title: Witchcraft Through the Ages, is a Swedish-Danish documentary-style silent horror film  based partly on the director’s study of the Malleus Malificarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors. Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. The film was made as a documentary but contains dramatised sequences of perverted and criminal Diabolic rituals and tortures enforced by the Inquisition. We recommend the version narrated by William S. Burroughs because… well, William S. Burroughs. Link below:

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Veronica Lake is spellbinding!

I married a Witch

Wallace Wooley: I’m afraid you’ve got a hangover.                                                            Daniel: Don’t tell me what I’ve got! I invented the hangover. It was in 1892… B.C.

(1942) Witchcraft and love-spells that go awry… and a daddy who drinks. An amusing precursor to later endeavors such as ‘Bell, Book and Candle,’ and TV series ‘Bewitched’ (1964 – 1972) and ‘American Horror Story Season 3: Coven’ (2013).

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Veronica Lake casts a sexy spell in I Married a Witch

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The Satanic sommelier serves a cocktail to Jean Brooks in The 7th Victim.

The Seventh Victim (1943)

Satanic Sommelier: Whiskey. An old fashioned mystery thriller centered around a cult of Devil worshippers called Palladists. Though tame unto the point of near-boredom by today’s jaded cinematic standards, it still carries a cozy film noir accent. Also noteworthy for prefiguring future essays into horror cinema. The group of Palladists may have an affinity with later cinematic devil worshipping groups, such as in Rosemary’s Baby. The shower scene is said to have inspired Hitchcock’s notorious shower scene in PSYCHO…

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An intentionally diabolical horny silhouette appears in the shower scene in The Seventh Victim.

The final laws against Witchcraft in England were repealed in 1952, allowing witches to finally “come out of the (broom) closet.” Witchcraft became all the rage after Gerald Gardner wrote and published a couple of groundbreaking books on the subject as an underground Pagan religion. It’s popularity as the Wiccan religion has spread and been on the rise ever since.

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Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle.

Bell, Book and Candle

Satanic Sommelier: Mix up a Manhattan! A cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.  (1958) In the late 1950s, Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) is a modern-day witch living in New York City’s Greenwich Village. For some reason she decides to cast a love spell on Jimmy Stewart. Witchcraft and love-spells that go awry. Another inspiration for TV series ‘Bewitched’ (1964 – 1972) and ‘American Horror Story Season 3: Coven’ (2013).

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Patricia Jessel and Christopher Lee in Horror Hotel

Horror Hotel

Satanic Sommelier: Chardonnay, chilled. (1960) aka The City of the Dead. Features Christopher Lee (you will find his presence occurs often in our list!) as a college professor with more than a dabbler’s interest in Witchcraft.

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The Red death with a pack of Tarot cards.

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The Masque of the Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death  

Satanic Sommelier: Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. We recommend Casillero del Diablo as your affordable go-to red wine for these films. (1964) Based upon the hypnotically perverse and lovely-dreadful poem by Edgar Allan Poe and starring the inimitable Vincent Price as a tyrannical 12th-century prince (a mix of Gilles De Rais and the Marquis De Sade) who is intrigued by a girl and takes her to live amid the immorality of his court where he compels her to join him in the “glories of Hell.”. 

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Eye of the Devil

Satanic Sommelier: Chilled Chardonnay. (1966) Is a slow paced but suspenseful occult mystery-thriller with seasonal Pagan sacrifice and witchcraft at it’s heart. Very good acting by a great cast (David Niven, Deborah Kerr, David Hemmings, Donald Pleasence) and effective storytelling keep you engaged in wondering what will happen next. However, if you’ve read Sir James Frazier’s The Golden Bough you’ll already know the outcome. Noteworthy for being the beautiful Sharon Tate’s first feature film. Her character is mysterious and intriguing. Regrettable that her talented life (and the lives of several others) was cut abruptly short in unspeakable circumstances by the murderous Manson Family cult in August of 1969.  A wave of weirdness will assail your mind if you think too much of connecting the occult dots between: ‘Eye of the Devil’ – Sacrifice, or ritual murder – Sharon Tate – the year 1966 – Roman Polanski – ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – The Devil – Mia Farrow – The Beatles – The Manson Family cult – John Lennon – The Dakota building in New York – etc…

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Sharon Tate offers a sacrifice in the suspenseful ‘Eye of the Devil.’

 

The Devil Rides Out

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & tonic, or have a Guinness or Newcastle. (1968) We know this is hard to believe but Christopher Lee is NOT a Satanist in this film! …but he sure seems to know an awful lot about black magic! Charles Gray (Bond villain Blofeld, and the Criminologist in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is the Satanic High Priest-Magician in this Hammer horror thriller. The opening credits are fantastic! 

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Are you ready for unholy communion? To Taste the Blood of Dracula!

Taste the Blood of Dracula

Satanic Sommelier: A very rich, dry, full-bodied Merlot. Or, try a Bloody Mary. (1970) Christopher Lee-as-Count Dracula developed into the Devil’s avatar in Hammer’s Horror films. A group of dissipated men try dabbling in the occult – Hellfire Club style – to add something new to spice-up their drab debaucheries… with dreadful consequences. Russell Hunter as the effeminate Felix the pimp and Ralph Bates as Lord Courtly lend the film a tasty Là-Bas and Hellfire Club feel. The black magic elements are an obvious and key element to this good vs. evil story.

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Felix the pimp has difficulty managing his charges in ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’.

 

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You’ll discover many dirty habits in Ken Russell’s The Devils

The Devils  

Satanic Sommelier: Difficult to choose… Perhaps a very expensive bottle of Château Margaux with savory notes and a strong finish! Too expensive? Try a French Bordeaux. No? Maybe Absinthe? Chartreuse? Otherwise, Bloody Mary’s for everyone! (1971) Excellent film – if you can find it. Directed by Ken Russell and banned for years, it is still usually available only in edited forms. Based on actual events known as the  Loudon Possessions. A seventeenth century “nuns gone wild.” Hysteria, repression, obsession, possession, and political intrigue leads us to the discovery of the real devils in society. The art direction is fabulous and the film has a fantastic look all it’s own. The best DVD release so far (from BFI) can be found through Amazon UK. The special features include some footage from the infamous and always edited “Rape of Christ” sequence, in which possessed nuns depose a crucifix in order to have their way with it. We could rave on and on about how marvelous this film is, and how horrifyingly relevant it remains today! 

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Oh yes! And then some!

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Dracula AD 1972

Satanic Sommelier: Incense and peppermint schnapps. (1972) Claimed to be a favorite film of Tim Burton. A Satanic ritual performed by hippies using the dried blood of Dracula himself brings Christopher Lee back to (from?) the Undead. Or is it the un-undead at this point?? Just as in the previous year’s Taste the Blood of Dracula! The early 70’s were a time when dabbling in occultism and black magic were de rigueur. Peter Cushing is present as a descendent of Van Helsing, of course. 

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With more than a touch of evil, Orson Welles gives us Necromancy

Necromancy  aka The Witching

Satanic Sommelier: Any Black Tower brand wine, perhaps Pinot Noir, as we remember Mr Welles in the Black Tower wine commercials on TV back in the day. (1972) Orson Welles is the leader of a group dabbling in the Dark Arts. A  not-so-great film, but gives you that ’70’s occult paranoia vibe which everybody was dipping into. 

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Orville’s coming-out party is not to be missed in Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

Satanic Sommelier: Rum & Coke or Vodka cranberry. (1972) CSPWDT is sort of like Night of the Living Dead, but with a young theater group dabbling in diabolism and necromancy. Flawed but effective 70’s gem with some really good moments.

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The Satanic Rites of Dracula

Satanic Sommelier: Gin & tonic for this very British film. (1974)  Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, ’nuff said. But with the added thrill of an elite Satanic fraternity planning to release a plague on the unsuspecting earth, with Christopher Lee’s Dracula (suffering from a severe case of ennui, no less) at the center! 

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Rich weirdos get their Hellfire Club kicks in The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

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Peter Cushing knows that a crucifix is much more effective than that sissy little gun in The Satanic Rites of Dracula

 

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The Wicker Man

Satanic Sommelier: Mead, or a good Celtic brew. (1975) Classic! Must see film starring Christopher Lee (starting to see a pattern here?!). A conservative Christian policeman (Edward Woodward as Sergeant Howie) is sent to investigate the report of a missing child on a small Scottish island. He is scandalized by the local Pagan culture and it’s sexualized rituals which are overseen by Lord Summerisle (Lee at his best). The more Sergeant Howie learns about the islanders’ strange practices, the closer he gets to tracking down the missing child. 

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Race with the Devil

Satanic Sommelier: This one is strictly beer. (1975) Two couples vacationing together in an R.V. from Texas to Colorado are terrorized after they witness a murder during a Satanic ritual. Peter Fonda stars. A heartwarming 70’s touchstone. 

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Nastassja Kinski and Christopher Lee in a Devil flick. Sounds like popcorn night to me!

To the Devil a Daughter

Satanic Sommelier: A reasonable but quality Cabernet sauvignon or Merlot. May we suggest our go-to Devil Wine: Casillero del Diablo, produced by Concha y Toro. (1976) Three reasons to watch this film:

1. Christopher Lee as a Satanic priest – he does it so well! Look at that smile at a nasty scene near the beginning of the film!,

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2. A 15-year-old full frontal nude Nastassja Kinski  (we also love her dressed as a nun),

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Nastassja Kinski

3. and… some rather atypical Satanic ritual imagery.

 

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Paula Sheppard is disturbed in ‘Alice, Sweet Alice’.

Alice, Sweet Alice

Satanic Sommelier: A cheap, full-bodied Merlot with acrid tones that sting the nose and leaves your tongue and teeth purple because you passed out from over-drinking before brushing your teeth… but every once-in-a-while you pick up a bottle because it does the job. Gato Negro will do. (1976) A frightful 70’s American slasher gem reminiscent of Dario Argento’s giallo shockers. This creeper focuses on murders that occur around two young sisters and the younger one’s (’80’s beauty Brooke Shields) first communion, and it positively spills over with bloody murder and over-the-top Catholic paranoia. Applause and thanks are due to Jane Lowry (as Aunt Annie DeLorenze) who was really going for the Oscar in this project!

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“Oh my GOD!!”

While not explicitly Satanic, Alice Sweet Alice sure feels blasphemous when taken in it’s grisly entirety. The creepy cat-loving landlord was played by Alphonso DeNoble. According to director Alfred Sole, Alphonso made extra money by dressing up as a priest and hanging around cemeteries. Elderly widows would ask “Father Alphonso” for a blessing and offer him a donation for the church in return. Did you know that Linda Miller (who plays Alice and Karen’s mother) is the daughter of Jackie Gleason and was married to Jason Miller, who portrayed Father Damien Karras in The Exorcist?

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Brooke Shields as Karen is ready for unholy communion in Alice Sweet Alice’

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Sometimes we just can’t get enough SUSPIRIA !

Suspiria

Satanic Sommelier: Affordable but drinkable Italian red wine… and hashish (smoke ’em if you got ’em). (1977) Is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most artistic horror film ever made. Dario Argento’s masterpiece. Note the sculpture of the Peacock in the film’s climax – the Peacock is of course a symbol of Pride (Lucifer’s sin). The Three Mothers motif is carried on in the sequels Inferno (1980) and The Mother of Tears (2007).  Read our Occult-Horror geek article on Suspiria here: Suspiria; in the Eye of the Peacock

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John Carradine in The Sentinel

 

The Sentinel

Satanic Sommelier: Whatever your poison may be, drink plenty of it!(1977)  The gateway to Hell requires a vigilant ward. The requirements for the position are a rather particular sin. The Sentinel is kind of like a blend of Hell House and Rosemary’s baby with some Law & Order mixed in. If it is tedious at times you can amuse yourself by spotting the many big names in it, enough to give even a jaded movie goer pause: Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Jose Ferrer, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, and Beverly D’Angelo in…. well, an unforgettable scene. Make-up effects by the legendary Dick Smith of The Exorcist fame. This somewhat gritty ’70’s devil movie has a politically incorrect climax to creep you out.

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Clint Howard gets harsh treatment in ‘Evilspeak’

Evilspeak

Satanic Sommelier: A very good beer. (1981) This one is rather unique as it is the first (and perhaps only) film to use the high-tech demon-summoning-computer motif (this was the beginning of the 80’s when home computers became available) by the bullied young man out for revenge. Think Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ but with a male misfit, instead of a young woman in the lead, who turns to the Devil for unholy revenge. Practically in a category by itself, innit? Enjoyable but often overlooked for it’s eccentricities, Evilspeak is a rare 80’s gem that is delightfully nasty. The scenes of the cruelties by young men in a military academy who gang up on a weaker one are especially unpleasant with gratuitous shame. This film carries some rather heavy Satanic  motifs with a vicious and gory climax to boot, which caused it to be banned for a number of years in the UK. One of the few Satanic horror films which draws upon the less popular porcine symbolism of the Devil. The “evil” Egyptian god Set is associated with pig iconography (among other animal totems). Almost want to take a shower / bath after watching this one… almost.

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‘Evilspeak’ 1981

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Robert DeNiro and Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart

Angel Heart  

Satanic Sommelier: Jack Daniels or Jim Beam (any way you like) for you “Hairy Angel” types. (1987) Excellent. Atmospheric. Pulls you in and won’t let go. Mickey Rourke in his prime. Based on the novel ‘Falling Angel’ by William Hjortsberg. The novel is centered in New York and never travels to New Orleans like in the film. The book  depicts a Black Mass that takes place in an abandoned New York subway. Well, that scene didn’t really make it into the film but we get some good Voodoo ceremony here along with a (at the time it was released) controversial and passionate sex scene which is interspersed with images akin to the novel’s orgiastic depiction of the Black Mass.

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DeNiro is unforgettable as Mr Louis Cyphere in Angel Heart

 

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Hellraiser & Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Satanic Sommelier: Drink something really good… until it hurts. (1987 & 1988) Are very significant films in their dramatic revisioning of Hell, it’s demons, landscape and all their accompanying mythology. This is all due to writer/director/visionary/artist Clive Barker, and the many cinematic artists who helped realize his nightmarish ideas of Hell on film. Based upon Clive Barker’s novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’ we discover a deal-with-the-devil story twisted with perverted family relations. The simple Faustian premise is amped up to exquisite extremes of Hellishness where Pleasure and Pain become indistinguishable. The Cenobites, perhaps the most unique demonic figures seen since the Fin de siècle,  are “Demons to some, Angels to others,” offering us to taste their pleasures of sweet suffering.

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Prince of Darkness

Satanic Sommelier: That wild green fiendy liquid in the capsule compels us to select Midori for this one. (1987)  Although certainly not a “great” film, this one has a seriously effective creep factor. A strange discovery is made in the basement of an old church (the aforementioned capsule containing a mysteriously active green liquid) and there is a team of scientists sent to investigate. Alice Cooper appears as one of the demented street people being attracted to the church. Do not watch it alone late at night. This is a movie that compels us to switch the lights on after waking from a nightmare and needing to make our way to the restroom in the dark. Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, In the Mouth of Madness) there is just something really disturbing about this movie. “Hello? Hello? I’ve got a message for you, and you’re not going to like it…”

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Not exactly what most people have in mind when they say they are going to The Church.

The Church

Satanic Sommelier: Italian red wine, Casillero del Diablo, or whatever’s on the shelf.(1989) (Italian title: La chiesa), also known as Cathedral of Demons or Demon Cathedral, is an Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi. It was produced by Dario Argento (along with a list of others). Asia Argento is a young girl in the film. Some nice set pieces, demons, Satanic rituals and plenty of gore. There are some definite nods to ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ including a Devil Rape scene and an old couple patterned on Minnie and Roman Castevet that tour The Church. You should definitely go to The Church, it’s good for the soul… or something.

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The Sect offers diabolical face-lifts

The Devil’s Daughter

Satanic Sommelier: Italian red wine or German Riesling. (1991) (Italian title: La Setta), also known as The Sect and Demons 4, is another Italian horror film co-written and produced by Dario Argento and directed by Michele Soavi. The film stars Kelly Curtis (sister of Jamie Lee Curtis: ‘Halloween’ 1978) and Herbert Lom. It’s a film that follows in the footsteps of Rosemary’s Baby but with some truly bizarre twists, some surrealistic dreamlike and nightmarish imagery, along with some gore.

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A mystery is revealed in ‘The Ninth Gate.’

The Ninth Gate

Satanic Sommelier: A smooth and satisfying Spanish or Portuguese red wine. (1999) A Satanic thriller directed by Roman Polanski and starring Johnny Depp (“Shut up and take my money!”). Based upon the 1993 novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Johnny Depp is the unscrupulous antique book dealer Dean Corso, who finds himself entangled in a mystery surrounding an ancient grimoire known as The Nine Gates. The Tarot-like illustrations in the mysterious book around which the story revolves are intriguing. The film is beautifully shot, well acted and steeped in Occult and Satanic essences, but it may leave some viewers perplexed at the end the first time they watch it. There is a deeper reading to the story regarding Dean Corso’s journey which is not explicitly spelled out for you (however, it is illustrated!). Worth a few viewings to think about and really appreciate the intricacy of the story.

Some occultists may find strange echoes of resonance in the works of Kenneth Grant.2-248

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Lost Souls  

Satanic Sommelier: It tries to be champagne but it’s just a low-calorie beer. (2000)  Although not a great movie it sure looks good. An interesting, but slow and subtle, take on the coming of the AntiChrist. Winona Ryder plays the lead role. John Hurt has a small but effective role as an exorcist.

 

 

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The House of the Devil  

Satanic Sommelier: A good Californian red wine to go with your “mushroom” pizza. (2009)  Inspired by the Satanic Panic of the 1980s; the story feeds on the fears people had at that time. The film takes place and even appears like it was filmed in the ’80’s. A very good, slow burning thriller with a Grand Guignol finish.

 

 

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The Lords of Salem

Satanic Sommelier: Beer, and/or Magic mushrooms with a gin & tonic, or whisky, chaser. (2012) Rob Zombie’s dark hallucinogenic trip into the weird world of witchcraft. Strategically avoiding the usual tired old tropes, this film takes us back to ancient blasphemous heresy for starters before relocating us into modern Salem, Mass. where young DJ Heidi (played by Sherri Moon Zombie) is ensnared in the ancient sorcery of her family’s blood curse. Worth seeing for the witches played by Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson and Patricia Quinn (Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show) and some bizarre artistic moments.

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American Horror Story Season 3: COVEN

(2013) Satanic Sommelier: Bourbon. An American cable TV drama series. A darkly funny and smart post-sexual revolution feminist return to those old Witchcraft and love potion flicks of the 40’s and 50’s. But this is American Horror Story – so yes, there is sex and plenty of blood and violence – albeit with an edge of black humor. A strong female cast exhibits the thrills of using potent magical powers. Which Witch will reign Supreme?

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BOO! The Witch!

The Witch

Satanic Sommelier: Guiness, a good local brew (beer) or an Irish red like Killians. (2015)  The Witch is an atmospheric period piece set in 1630 New England. A  folktale saturated with fearful religious paranoia that inexorably tears apart a family of English Puritan settlers trying to survive on the edge of a vast forest after being banished from the safe confines of their colony. The fear of Satan’s power may be real or imagined or seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Committed performances and some unsettling imagery of classical witchcraft (so rare in cinema) make this film a must-see for those who move in certain circles… around a bonfire… beneath a full moon.

Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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By: H. B. Gardner

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Is God Dead? Yes, this was an actual cover for TIME magazine in 1966.

Note: All passages in purple are direct quotes from the novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ by Ira Levin.

Rosemary’s Baby is perhaps the most positive Satanic book (and film) ever made. Certainly there will be die-hard fans of Joris-Karl Huysmans who insist that his 1891 novel Là-bas  (translated as Down There or The Damned) is the ultimate piece of Satanic literature;  however, it’s confused philosophical digressions, not to mention it’s darker and more grotesque passages, keep it far from the field of the positive. Rosemary’s Baby, both as a  novel penned by author Ira Levin and as a hit film directed by Roman Polanski, works on an entirely different level from Huysmans’ masterpiece of decadent diabolism. A level so close to our own, in fact, that we cannot help but be pulled into the story and accept that which must be considered by devout Christians to be the ultimate unacceptable thing – to purely love the spawn of Satan – the Antichrist incarnate. The other choice which presents itself in this thriller is suicide – a grave matter – and a mortal sin that has been judged unpardonable in the past.

We are left wondering at the end of the story. We wonder if it is indeed a happy ending or a terrifying one. By the end of Rosemary’s Baby some people’s deeply held beliefs are called into question regarding: the Devil’s power, Is God dead? and, if you were Rosemary Woodhouse, a sense of what would you do? We must examine and consider our reaction to the final scene where Satan’s power is fully revealed in the apparent absence of any God. A child has been birthed who is destined to “overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples! ….redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured!” A true ‘Mother’s Love’ is certainly the purest kind of love to be found on Earth but what to do in this case?! We are left wondering – ‘Wouldn’t it be better if she throws the baby out the window and jumps out after it?’ as is suggested in the novel. Or, we might choose to look at it differently. After suspecting through much of the tale that the baby was in mortal danger from the coven, ‘Isn’t it marvelous that the baby is not only safe at the end but fiercely adored?’

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Virtue and Vice symbolized.

Sister Light, Sister Dark

In the story we (“we”are Rosemary – for the entire story is from her perspective) meet (Theresa) Terry Gionoffrio, a former drug addict with a sketchy past whose life has been turned around by a nice old couple, the Castevets, who in the way of the Good Samaritan (in a parable told by Jesus in the Book of Luke) have literally picked Terry up off the sidewalk, brought her home with them, and are bringing her back to full health and (in the novel) even planning on putting her through secretarial school – giving her the promise of a second chance, a new  future. But their home is the Bramford, a dark gothic apartment house on Manhattan’s upper West side with an even sketchier past than Terry’s. For over a hundred years all manner of scandals and crimes have accumulated within it’s darkly woven texture: suicide, murder, cannibalism, diabolism… But the Castevets seem kindly enough, “like real grandparents” as Terry says.

“I was starving and on dope and doing a lot of other things that I’m so ashamed of I could throw up just thinking about them. And Mr and Mrs Castevet completely rehabilitated me. They got me off the H, the dope, and got food into me and clean clothes on me, and now nothing is too good for me as far as their concerned. They give me all kinds of health food and vitamins, they even have a doctor come give me regular check-ups! It’s because their childless. I’m like the daughter they never had, you know?”

Terry says that at first she suspected the Castevets had some kind of ulterior motive, “a sex thing” he, or she, or they would want her to do. “But they’ve really been like real grandparents. Nothing like that.” It must have broken her heart when the revelation came that they actually did indeed want her for a “sex thing,” just not in the way anybody could have possibly imagined.

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Cult-ivated for great things

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Mater Dolorosa

Rosemary and Terry meet in the Bramford’s gloomy basement where, as we learn early on from our friend Hutch, that “a dead baby wrapped in newspaper had not so long ago been found. Whose baby had it been, and how had it died? Who had found it? Had the person who left it been caught and punished?” She considers researching the incident “but that would have made it more real, more dreadful than it already was. To know the spot where the baby had lain, to have perhaps to walk past it on the way to the laundry room and again on the way back to the elevator, would have been unbearable. Partial ignorance, she decided, was partial bliss.”

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Tannis anyone? Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the coven.

A more appropriate meeting place could not be devised for these two women who each live “in partial ignorance and partial bliss.” The basement, being underground, is the womb – tomb of the “Black Bramford”. It is the location of a horrendous discovery “not so long ago”of a dead infant. Rosemary and Terry meet at the nefarious scene where a dead baby was discovered; a strange yet subtle twist involving the fates of these two women. The Bramford’s basement laundry facilities is a witches’ crossroads of devouring death; the dark steamy maw of the Dark Mother who gives birth to, and devours, her young. Were this story a Grimm’s fairy tale we could just as easily imagine the meeting of the relatively innocent pig-tailed Rosemary and the more worldly-experienced Terry taking place in some deep dark forest, at a crossroads where criminals are hanged, the unquiet dead are buried, and necromantic rituals take place in the flickering light of black candles made from the fat of unbaptized babes. They meet in the basement of the spooky, gothic witches’ mansion. The basement which is also, of course, the subconscious – where the monsters live. With it’s “steamy brick walls” it is the Bramford’s bowels, a moist womb. A gestation place for all evil conceptions. As Terry proudly exhibits her lovely, yet foul-smelling, gift from the Castevets, the umbilical threads of Fate are rewoven by the hand of Satan between these two women.

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“I’m not mad about the smell either.”

With Rosemary and Terry we are reminded of a pair of women that occur as a choice in many hero journey myths. Or, as card number six ‘VI The Lovers’ on the Marseille style Tarot card. The Dark Woman represents Vice, the Light Woman represents Virtue. Sister Dark and Sister Light – each represent a temptation. The somewhat exotic, brunette Terry – with her history of illicit sex, prostitution, and drugs; and fair, strawberry blond, girlishly pig-tailed Rosemary – the good Catholic school girl from Omaha, Nebraska. In the novel we learn (Minnie’s voice coming from the nun in the dream on the night of Terry’s suicide): “All she has to be is young, healthy and not a virgin. She doesn’t have to be a no-good drug-addict whore out of the gutter.” Very simple qualifications for the required candidate the Castevets need. Terry has been staying with the Castevets for a few months. Has Terry inquired about their taste in art? Or have they removed their paintings from the walls?

‘There aren’t many like Mr and Mrs Castevet,’ Terry said. ‘I would be dead now if it wasn’t for them. That’s an absolute fact. Dead or in jail.’

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Who’s your Baby-Daddy? In the novel, Rosemary brings Terry to her apartment to meet Guy. This photo imagines that scene which looks like it may have been filmed but edited out from the final cut.

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Some interpret the two figures flanking the male Lover as personifications of Vice & Virtue

Is suicide a sin?

Not long after meeting Terry we find her dead in the street, quite literally in the gutter you might say, right after she jumps from the Castevet’s seventh story window. We are shocked and appalled at this sudden loss of such a beautiful young woman we have only just met (in the novel we learn everyone mistakes her for the actress Anna Maria Alberghetti; in the film she resembles Victoria Vetri – who actually plays the role under the name Angela Dorian). “She was a very happy girl with no reason for self destruction” mourns Minnie. We are left to wonder as the suicide note is read silently; though Minnie Castevet tells us later that the suicide note “made it crystal clear” that they (the Castevets) hadn’t “failed her in some way”.

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Minnie, your only failure is your sense of fashion

Of course we come to learn just what Terry’s dilemma was. She was being groomed by the Castevets to become the mother of Satan’s child. Apparently the Castevets had wisely withheld this information from Terry up until and just before her suicide. Rosemary and Guy hear Minnie’s midwestern bray through the walls of their own apartment: “But it’s impossible to be a hundred percent sure!” and “If you want my opinion, we shouldn’t tell her at all; that’s my opinion!” The film hints that the suicide occurs the night after Rosemary and Guy hear the “singing and the flute and the chanting” coming through the wall from the Castevet’s neighboring apartment. The novel tells us the Castevet’s had one of their parties on the Saturday night before Rosemary meets Terry, but we are uncertain whether Terry was present. Perhaps she was, and perhaps that was when she was presented with the antique Tannis charm. On the night of the suicide Rosemary overhears the distraught voice of Minnie Castevet through her bedroom wall as she drifts into sleep. The voice seeps into her dream in the form of an angry nun from her Catholic school girl years complaining: “Sometimes I wonder how come you’re the leader of anything! If you’d’ listened to me, we wouldn’t have had to do it! We’d have been all set to go now instead of starting all over from scratch! I told you not to tell her anything in advance….. I told you she wouldn’t be open-minded! Time enough later to let her in on it.” 

Terry felt compelled to choose between willingly giving birth to Satan’s child, or suicide. Which choice is the lesser, or greater, sin? This is the question that unconsciously worms it’s way into our minds.

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“Didn’t she have a brother? She said she did. In the Navy.”

Whenever – and under whatever circumstances – she was informed of the Castevet’s diabolical plan, Terry felt compelled to choose between submitting to having sex with Satan and giving birth to his child, or suicide. We are presented with a soteriological dilemma. Which choice is the lesser, or greater, sin?  This is the question that unconsciously worms it’s way into our minds. According to the theology of the Catholic Church, death by suicide is considered a grave matter, one of the elements required for mortal sin.

A mortal sin (Latin: peccata mortalia), in Catholic theology, is a gravely wrongful act, which can lead to eternal damnation, if a person is not absolved of the sin before death (an impossibility for a successful suicide). A sin is considered to be “mortal” when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God’s saving grace.

Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. Not only is suicide seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity, but it is forbidden by the fifth commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother”. There is some debate among denominations and theologians, and differing opinions, as to whether suicide is, as a sin, pardonable or not.

As to why Terry didn’t just try to get out of there – we might well imagine her despair at the idea of going to seek help with her crazy story!  She would have quite assuredly imagined – knowing what she surely figured out before taking her own life (remember, Terry knew poor old Mrs Gardenia who used to live next door before slipping into a coma after a falling-out with the Castevets) – that the Castevet’s coven would take immediate black magical action against her, causing her to go blind, deaf or worse! Even if the Castevet coven resisted casting any spells against Terry (Ha! As if!) she would almost immediately have been shut away in some hideous New York mental hospital (this is 1965 remember). Or, she could choose to risk going back to the streets of New York in 1965, where she would most likely end up falling back into her old ways, and end up dying in the gutter anyway. Falling or jumping as a form of suicide holds some close connection to the idea of Satan’s Fall from Heaven. Poetic, no?

 

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He  moves in mysterious ways…

“Minnie said, ‘He chose you out of all the world, Rosemary. Out of all the women in the whole world, He chose you. He brought you and Guy to your apartment there, He made that foolish what’s-her-name, Terry, made her get all scared and silly so we had to change our plans. He arranged everything that had to be arranged, ’cause He wanted you to be the mother of His only living Son.'”

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“Look at His hands!”

We are given some valuable extra information about Rosemary’s thinking process in the final pages of the novel. After the awful revelation she is sitting with a hot cup of Lipton’s  tea and thinks…

“The thing to do was kill it. Obviously. Wait…. and grab it and throw it out the window. and jump out after it. Mother Slays Baby and Self at Bramford. Save the world from God-knows-what. From Satan-knows-what.”

Yet, she struggles with the idea whether it is even human and decides “He couldn’t be all bad, he just couldn’t. Even if he was half Satan, wasn’t he half her as well, half decent, ordinary, sensible, human being?” She considers that she could exert her own good influence over him to counteract their bad one. She even considers going to a priest. “It was a problem for the Church to handle. For the Pope and all the cardinals to deal with…”

Her motherly instincts take over when she hears the baby crying and sees that Laura-Louise is rocking the baby too fast. Roman Castevet tells her to rock him. “She stood still and looked at him. ‘You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,’ she said. In the film Sydney Blackmer, excellently cast as Roman Castevet, with a suffering look of pure pathos says “Aren’t you His mother?” In the novel, her eyes then move to the window  and she suggests that Roman should oil the squeaking wheels of the bassinet. It’s as though she is still deciding just what to do. Window? Wait?

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“She stood still and looked at him. ‘You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,’ she said. ‘Aren’t you His mother?’ Roman said.”

As she is rocking him she begins to think his eyes, which so startled and revolted her at first, are actually “pretty in a way,” and asks what his hands are like as they are covered in black mitts. She is told that he has very tiny pearly claws and they’re covered “only so He doesn’t scratch Himself, not because His hands are unattractive.” Her anger flashes at the appearance of Dr Sapirstein but she is quick to say: “‘Not you,” to the Baby. ‘It’s not your fault. I’m angry at them, because they tricked me and lied to me. Don’t look so worried; I’m not going to hurt you.'” She loosens the neck of the baby’s gown to make Him more comfortable. Tells Him He has a very cute chin. 

Indeed, it isn’t the baby’s fault. “Poor little creature.”

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“Hail Rosemary, mother of Andrew!”

Rosemary insists the baby be named Andrew John rather than Roman Castevet’s favored Adrian Steven, after his devil conjuring father and his own true name. A point she refuses even to argue about. And, “He can’t wear black all the time.” She has come to fully accept her baby, with budding horns, tail and all. Naming it, claiming it. Speaking sweetly to it as the coven gathers around the black bassinet in awe at the dark miracle before them and exclaim “Hail Andrew!” and “Hail Rosemary, mother of Andrew!” and “Hail Satan!” Rosemary Woodhouse gave birth just after midnight on June twenty-fifth. Exactly half the year round from you-know-who. She has become the first Satanic Madonna and has not even joined the coven. She calls the baby Mr Worry-face’. Roman assures her the baby knows she will not hurt him. She asks Roman “Then what does he look so worried for? The poor little thing. Look at him.” As a final touch, in an effort to erase what she sees as a “worried expression” from the baby’s face, she taps the silver ornament dangling above the baby – an inverted crucifix suspended by a black ribbon bound around the Christ’s ankles – and sets it swinging.

The genius of Rosemary’s Baby lies in it’s so successfully aligning the reader, or viewer, with the character of Rosemary that we too can’t help but condone her motherly instincts. With an intense interest in the subject Jules Bois wrote in 1895 in Le Satanisme et la Magie that the devil’s power lies in that “he suffers;” an idea expressed so well in Milton’s Paradise Lost we find ourselves wondering which side Milton was on. Rosemary sees her own baby “suffering” in the midst of a coven of aging witches – surrounded with black, gown uncomfortably tied, rocked carelessly and without a mother’s good sense, her own breast milk she’s been pumping out being fed to her baby in bottles when she had decided to breast feed, etc..). In Rosemary’s Baby, book or film, we find ourselves choosing life rather than the murder of an innocent baby – whatever it’s  paternal, or infernal, origins may be.

By: H. B. Gardner